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All the anxiety and intensity of the NHL Draft boiled down to just a handful of minutes inside the Prudential Center in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Nashville, selecting fourth overall and only the second time in the top ten in their existence, saw the three teams ahead of them make their selections, bringing only one plausible options for the Predators to choose with their pick: Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks.
Colorado ended up doing what they said all along and drafted Nathan MacKinnon first overall. Florida, however, threw the entire Top 5 in a loop as they selected Aleksander Barkov second overall, a player that was high on Nashville’s draft board. Tampa Bay would go on to select Jonathan Drouin from the Halifax Mooseheads.
When all was said and done, Nashville took their time and traveled to the podium to select Jones with the fourth pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
When speaking with Jones as he met with the media after being selected, he was relieved the process was over, but was ready to make the three teams who passed on him regret their decisions.
“I’m competitive, I get that from my parents, you definitely want to prove them wrong and show them why they should have picked you,” said Jones. “It’s not my goal next year, but it’s definitely on my list.”
Jones, scoring 14 goals and 42 assists for the Winterhawks last season, is highly regarded as the top defenseman in this year’s draft. Poile and company noted in a meeting with the media some days prior to the draft that Seth Jones was at the top of their draft board. That hadn’t changed come today.
“We had Seth Jones rated number one, he is just a terrific player. This is a franchise-type of player,” said Poile. ““I would have been happy to take a winger or a centerman, but Seth Jones was there at number four. We’re happy with that.”
As Jones fell from first, to second, and then to third, the odds of him coming the Nashville grew considerably. However, with no level of anxiety, the Predators knew what their choice was as soon as they went on the clock. It was more of a question as to how the draft order would go down between the first four picks.
“I’ve been anxious for a long time, it’s like going to school. Four names, four picks…how hard is it to figure out how [the first four picks] is going to be? I don’t think anyone, up until a little bit yesterday because of Florida, nobody had this order,” said Poile. “If you went back before the Memorial Cup, there’s no chance anyone had this order [of selections in the draft].”
Poile noted that Jones will have an opportunity to make the team out of training camp. There isn’t any doubt that Jones has a chance to make Nashville’s lineup and be on the team come October, something the 6’4 defenseman hopes to do.
“I think I can be a solid defeneseman. People say it takes time for defenseman to grow, a couple of years at least, hopefully I can prove that wrong,” said Jones.
Ultimately, the selection of Seth Jones to the Nashville Predators is a perfect choice. It may not be the offensive talent that Nashville so desperately needs, however it’s the best choice for the Predators with who was available. Along with Jones’ determination and level of competitiveness, Nashville could undoubtedly reap the benefits of this draft selection for years to come.
Will he play in October for Nashville? I have to think he has a better chance than some. Jones may be the most NHL-ready defenseman that is or will be drafted in this year’s NHL Draft. With just minimal spots available on the Predators blueline up for grabs, Jones will have to work hard to carve himself a spot in the lineup.
In the end, Nashville benefited from a little bit of luck and ended up getting one of the best picks in the draft, who could have easily been selected first overall. It was stressful for Jones, but the only thing that matters for him now is that he’s a Nashville Predator.
“I’m extremely glad it’s over. It’s been a long time coming and the past couple of years have just dragged on,” said Jones. “I’m excited to be a Predator”
Seth Jones will be at Nashville’s Prospect Development Camp between June 7th-14th, so Predators fans will get their first taste of what Jones can bring.